The Better to Wear Slacks

maybe bright red onesI stumbled across this bit of advice from Get in Shape while looking up something else. It was written by Ida Jean Kain, author of the column “Your Figure, Madame!,” so says the title page. The flap copy elaborates:

For all her scientific training, her style is warm and humorous. Instead of trying to scare women about their diet deficiencies and exercise allergies, she is more apt to start off by voicing one of their private thoughts ~ such as, what is it Hildegarde or somebody has they haven’t got, and to go on quite logically from there. By the time she finishes, you are convinced that good nutrition and a dash of exercise pay off. You will enjoy getting in shape.

Excuse me now, I’ve got to go prep myself before slipping on my favorite clingy slacks.

1944: The Better to Wear Slacks

No doubt about it, slacks are going to be the favorite feminine uniform for the duration ~ and probably thereafter. There is just one objection. Slacks are hard on a girl’s figure.

At one of our leading universities, the bluestockings ruled that the pudgy girls could not wear slacks. At another, Wellesley, no less, the officials were waging a fierce battle against such attire when Mme. Chiang Kai-shek innocently strolled across the campus ~ in slacks. That finished the opposition.

But not all the ladies who get into slacks will look as trim as China’s leading lady. Once I ventured to mention in my column that a sight I hoped never to see was the likes of Elsa Maxwell in slacks. My friend and editor, Irene Hawkins, promptly sent along a letter from an irate reader informing me that she was about that size and had just bought three pairs and that it would please her quite as well if I did not write a column. Yes, women will wear slacks. Maybe bright red ones.

Sometimes the trouble is with the material. It clings. It should have enough body to hold its own shape. Even men do not cut such very dashing figures in those limp summer suits. And they look downright flabby in those drooping combinations with the shirt tails out. There ought to be a law consigning all such soft, clingy materials to sleeping garments.

But the trouble with most slacks is the figure. The average woman does not have callipygian lines. (Look that one up in the unabridged dictionary and you will get the general idea. It amounts to hips.) Sitting gets the blame. But it is not actually the sitting that is back of the spread. Rather, it is the omission of any exercise. If you sit eight hours a day, all added together or at one stretch, you should reserve eight minutes a day for hip-slimming calisthenics. That scant amount of time adds up to four solid hours of exercise in a month and can be counted on to keep you trim enough for slacks.

Source: Kain, Ida Jean. Get in Shape. Philadelphia: David McKay Company, 1944.
~ pp. 80-81 ~